Wednesday, June 22, 2005


Harrumphing with the Stars

There’s been much harrumphing in media circles about the deal struck between Douglas Wood and the Ten Network for his exclusive story.

Bob Brown and David Marr on Radio National this morning were harrumphing at Wood’s decision to take the money and run. Senator Brown complaining that taxpayers had spent $10 million bailing Mr Wood out and he should be speaking to the Australian public for free. Brown also complaining that Mr. Woods Iraqi colleagues were executed, so he has an obligation to give the money to their families.

Mr. Marr complaining that by paying for the story, Ten would be asking only ‘soft’ questions, trying to make out their new boy in the best possible light, thus not giving the Australian public the true story, which they deserve.

In the end they settled on the conclusion that although Mr. Wood was doing nothing illegal, it’s unethical. “A bit off”.

The Age’s Tracee Hutchinson, takes a different tack, and simply shitcans Mr. Wood as a “blustering buffoon” with “none of the grace and dignity of his brothers”, and Channel Ten as fools and amateurs for not realizing, unlike Seven and Nine, that the Douglas Wood story has been tainted by the “cringe-worthiness” of Douglas Wood himself.

What a crock hey? Let’s take Senator Brown.

Taxpayers money was spent is his first argument. Well yeah? So what? I’d bloody well expect the taxpayer to kick in if I was in the same situation. We all would. Not only that, as PR guru Max Marxson said on the same program. Wood is going to pay roughly half his fee in tax anyway. He’s making his contribution.

That he should donate to the fatherless Iraqi families is his next line: Right so it was Woods fault that they were murdered was it Senator? He should pay compensation should he? If Mr. Wood chooses to make a voluntary donation to those families then that’s his business. He doesn’t need lecturing. He is a private citizen. Not a public citizen like Mr. Brown, and to lecture Mr. Wood on his moral obligations before he’s even had a chance to come to grips with his ordeal is disgraceful.

Mr. Marr criticizes Ten. He criticizes the whole shabbiness of chequebook journalism. With this I agree. But it exists, what do you do? We can whinge and moan but they’re all the same the commercial media, and frankly I’d rather Ten get the gig, amateurish Ten, youth oriented, slap happy Ten, that that big fat stinker of malevolence and manipulation, Nine.

Marr’s other criticism is that “the whole” truth won’t come out. He argues that because Ten have to handle their man with kid gloves, they won’t be able to dig in to get the whole story, the whole sordid money grubbing reason why Douglas Wood was in Iraq in the first place.

Well my attitude again is. So what? Why do any of us feel we need to be told the whole truth by Douglas Wood? What right do we have to demand it of this man, a private citizen? He’s not running for office – he doesn’t have to prove his integrity to anyone! He was a prisoner. He was very likely almost killed, and he probably witnessed several executions himself. What right do we have to question any of his motives surrounding this matter?

Finally there’s Tracee Hutchinson, formally of both Seven and Nine you’ll note, still probably with friends there, and not inclined to upset them. She makes out Ten to be foolish. Suckered in. Where Seven and Nine have realized that Wood is tainted goods, Ten have blindly stumbled in she implies. Well that’s just got to be rubbish. Nine wrote the sleazy cheque book journalism play book. They’ve been at it for years. No crook is too slimy for Channel Nine not to cough up for an expose. No everyman hero too naïve for Nine to exploit chew up and spit out when their use-buy date is passed. Nine might have been outbid by newby Ten, but they were slavering like the hungry dogs they are to get the deal.

And Seven, well they’re just made up of disgruntled former Nine slimers who are looking for payback. Crap I say Ms Hutchinson. Crap. No, as far as I’m concerned. If we’re going to have shoddy cheque book journalism, and lets face it, it's here to stay, then give me Ten every time. Bookend it with the pink-bits from Big Brother, and lets stop pretending that there is any dignity left in commercial television.

Will I be watching Douglas Wood on Channel Ten on Sunday night? Hell no. I’ve got a back-log of recordings of the new Doctor Who and the new Black Books series to get through before I even need to contemplate switching over to commercial TV.

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